Hemlock Semiconductor Operations (HSC) announced its acquisition of a DuPont business that makes trichlorosilane (TCS), the primary raw material used in producing the ultra-pure polysilicon HSC supplies to the semiconductor and solar industries. By acquiring the TCS operations in Midland, Mich., HSC will be better able to control supply and substantially reduce costs. The Midland plant is about 20 miles north of HSC’s sprawling campus just west of Saginaw, Mich.
HSC’s new lower cost position, coupled with its ability to produce polysilicon sustainably, will enable the company to boost its competitiveness as solar energy purchasers increasingly look for ways to decarbonize their supply chains.
“This acquisition will strengthen our already strong semiconductor position,” said HSC Chairman and CEO Mark Bassett. “It will help accelerate our growth in the solar sector since we’ll be able to offer ultra-pure polysilicon of exceptional quality that reduces the carbon footprint of producing solar panels at a substantially lower cost.”
Bassett called the acquisition of the trichlorosilane asset “a major milestone” for HSC, enabling the company’s manufacturing to become fully integrated with its main raw material. Polysilicon is used to make solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and the integrated circuits for electronics which are the building blocks for everything from smartphones to autonomous vehicles.
Though solar PV produces no emissions in its operations and typically offsets greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions from fossil-based electricity generation, there is more to cutting carbon footprint than one might think. The GHG emissions associated with how things are produced and transported can have an appreciable impact on the “embodied carbon” of any given product. Solar cells are no different in that regard because major components in solar cell technology like polysilicon require energy intensive processes to purify them into solar grade polysilicon.
HSC has been working hard to improve the energy efficiency and energy management of its operations to reduce its carbon footprint. That has led to very low embodied GHG emissions in the ultra-pure polysilicon that HSC manufactures. By boosting its environmental performance, HSC has enabled ultra-low-carbon solar panels with up to 50 percent less embodied carbon than typical solar.
“Not all solar is created equal. If end users choose solar energy products more carefully by opting for source materials made through energy efficient processes, they can further decarbonize their supply chains and reach their sustainability goals faster,” added Bassett.
— Solar Builder magazine